Tristar – A Business for Purpose

We revisit Tristar to find out about their latest projects and their commitment to supporting the communities they operate in.

Tristar offers fully integrated energy logistics solutions to blue-chip companies ranging from international and national oil majors and NGOs.

“From humble beginnings, we have grown into a fully integrated downstream energy logistics company,” says Eugene Mayne, CEO of Tristar. “We own the largest fuel facility in the Pacific island of Guam; our fuel business is strong. In parts of Africa we supply fuel for peacekeeping missions under challenging conditions. We are fortunate to have a unique business model with no direct competition which has helped us become the partner of choice for most national and international oil majors.”

It’s been an eventful year since we last spoke with them, but the company is still going strong.

“2019 was a good year. We have long-term relationships with our customers, primarily oil majors. We grow organically with our customers, expanding existing contracts and securing new customers on long-term contracts.” says Mayne. “Because of our strong relationships, Tristar is a partner of choice for most oil majors. Whenever there’s an energy logistics opportunity, we are offered the first right of refusal. We’re growing in our core markets and beyond. Today, we’re looking at an opportunity in India which is a new market for us.”

Tristar has renewed a number of contracts on the maritime logistics front, while also commencing work on an expansion project in the UAE and completing a major breakthrough project in Africa this year.

The company is expanding the storage capacity of its chemical terminal at the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) in the UAE.

“Tristar’s business is built around customers. We acquired this facility from one of our customers, Shell. They used to own and operate the facility but two years ago they divested themselves of it and we were invited to make a bid to own and operate the facility. So, we bought the chemical terminal from Shell and leased it back to them,” Mayne explains.

Of course, buying a facility that can only serve one customer doesn’t make much business sense, and so the next step was to expand it.

“It’s not just buying or selling an asset but thinking about the lifetime value of the asset,” Mayne explains. “To look at how we leveraged it, the only way you can leverage storage is by increasing capacity from 5,000 cubic metres to 25,000 cubic metres. 75% of the facility is now completely ready for us next year.”

Tristar is also playing a key role in modernising the Entebbe International Airport in Uganda.

“We have a long-term concession with the Ugandan Civil Aviation to build a facility to modernise the Entebbe airport,” Mayne tells us. “It’s nearing completion and will be ready by December, then will be there for us for the next 25 years. We’re very proud of it because it’s the first of its kind that we’ve done, it’s an additional business expertise that has now been imported into the group for future projects of a similar nature in Iraq and other parts of the world. So, this is a good launching pad for us.”

Sustaining Sustainability

Tristar’s commitment to sustainability has not changed, despite the pandemic.

“Since our inception in 1998 we made the decision to be a responsible business, and what that means, is paying a lot of attention to the health and safety our employees and the community at large,” Mayne says. “We have built a strong culture of road safety, and we have won the RoSPA Gold Award in the UK eleven times. We have not had a single fatality in the last ten years and an enviable road transport safety record. We’re also committed to supporting the Paris agreement for zero emissions by 2050, and as part of that we’re exploring all options through various initiatives which includes maximising the use of renewable energy across group operations.”

This is reflected in the company’s latest investments in their operations, namely, ships built in line with the latest carbon reduction environmental technology. Tristar has recently taken delivery of four of the six IMO2 25K chemical carrier vessels it ordered from Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, South Korea’s premier shipbuilder. The new vessels feature Tier III engines which will reduce emissions and operate in an eco-friendly manner.

“We are also currently exploring a revolutionary project with one of our anchor customers to design and build wind-propelled ships,” Mayne tells us proudly. “We are also looking at hybrid wave which will be carbon negative in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainability is an integral part of our business.”

While Tristar is a successful, profit-making business, the bottom line has never been, well, the bottom line.

“Our priority isn’t making money alone. We want to be a business for purpose as well…we’re taking care of the health and wellbeing of our employees and the communities where we operate by promoting opportunities for people to advance their own lives,” Mayne says. “We see the challenges that people have to overcome to live peacefully and we believe that it’s important to extend a hand and help them in whatever way we can, for example, clean drinking water and education for their children.”

“We established a Computer Lab at the Gabat School in Juba, South Sudan in 2018, making it the first primary school in the country to offer computer classes.  For us that’s sustainability, protecting the environment and helping communities by playing a role in the advancement of people’s lives.”

Of course, the one thing that’s been affecting everyone’s lives this year has been COVID-19.

“I don’t think anyone hasn’t been impacted in one way or another, but as a business firstly I’d like to say the health and wellbeing of our employees is our first priority,” Mayne insists. “We make sure everyone is safe and educated on protective measures and the use of PPE. We also extended testing for all, making sure those who tested positive were taken care of very well until they recovered.”

On the business side, Tristar was fortunate to have a diverse, resilient model that made it resistant to challenges and crises in individual sectors or regions.

In fact, Mayne expects to see growth for the company in 2020. “It’s been an interesting experience for us. It’s made us stronger,” he tells us.

Looking forward, Mayne only had more optimism. “We are very bullish about the future,” he says. “We will definitely look at growing organically but we’re also making key acquisitions and already have an integrated business model. We want a balanced revenue stream where no one sector becomes overly weighted. At the moment, we operate in 21 countries and we’re looking to expand our footprint, expanding with our existing customers while also looking for new opportunities and acquisitions.”

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